ANNAPOLIS -- Just call it the quarterback controversy that never materialized.
Even though Navy quarterback Alton Grizzard committed a career-high six turnovers in last week's 28-17 loss to Boston College, the senior was endorsed yesterday by coach George Chaump, who namedhim the starter for Saturday's game against Air Force.
It was a frustrated Chaump who suggested changes after watching Grizzard throw five passes that were intercepted and fumble once -- with three of the turnovers resulting in Boston College touchdowns. But after reviewing the films of the game, the coach said poor pass blocking was a main factor in the loss.
"The things that cause interceptions are heat, pressure," Chaump said. "You never hear about the man up front who missed the block, and that has happened. If you can't get protection, there's no use trying to throw the ball."
Grizzard passed the ball 29 times against the Eagles, but constantly was ducking a furious pass rush as he completed just 11 passes for 133 yards. Two of his interceptions were tipped, and another bounced off the chest of tight end Dave Berghult. The other two interceptions against Grizzard, who yesterday declined to talk to reporters, resulted from poorly thrown passes.
"He threw lousy, and it was poor judgment," Chaump said. "But I am not as critical of Alton Grizzard as other people are. In fact, I'm defensive of him. He's an excellent football player."
That sentiment was echoed by Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry, who attributed Grizzard's problems to learning a new system.
"I have as much respect for him as anyone we play," DeBerry said. "He's just going through growing pains."
But Grizzard could be benched should the Midshipmen (2-2) struggle against Air Force (2-3). With the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and a trip to the Liberty Bowl at stake, Chaump said he approaches Saturday's contest as a must-win game and could replace Grizzard with backup Gary McIntosh should Navy have problems moving the football.
McIntosh, who backed up Grizzard last season, has been working to get back into the good graces of the team after quitting before the opener when he wasn't named the starter. He was reinstated after the second game.